A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind

by

Sylvia Nasar

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A Beautiful Mind: Chapter 40 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At the end of January 1961, Virginia Nash and Martha arrive in Princeton. They travel to the Trenton State Hospital, where Nash is confined. The Nashes can no longer afford to have Nash stay at a private hospital, and they have agreed to commit him to Trenton State, a crowded, no-frills institution. Upon admission, Nash is assigned a serial number—which makes him feel like a prisoner—and a psychiatrist.
Nash is hospitalized yet again. Once more, he experiences this hospitalization as a form of “imprisonment,” since it severely limits his own independence.
Themes
Mental Illness, Recovery, and the Quest for Knowledge Theme Icon
Some of Nash’s former colleagues are disturbed to hear that he has been incarcerated at the state hospital, which is known for its harsh treatments, including drugs, electroshock therapy, and insulin coma therapy. Despite efforts by his former colleagues to delay aggressive treatment, Nash is transferred to the insulin unit, where he is administered insulin injections that render him unconscious for several hours a day. Later, hospitals will phase out insulin shock therapy, which comes to be considered too dangerous; at the time of Nash’s hospitalization, though, insulin is one of the few treatments available for schizophrenia. After six weeks, Nash seems to be recovering.
Nasar discusses Nash’s insulin therapy, a controversial treatment for schizophrenia that has since been phased out by most mental healthcare providers. For Nash, though, insulin therapy proved effective. Though Nash would later claim that his own ability to separate reality from delusion—the power of his remarkably rational mind—helped him to recover from schizophrenia, aggressive medical treatment was also an important part of his recovery, helping to stabilize his mood and prevent psychotic breaks.
Themes
Mental Illness, Recovery, and the Quest for Knowledge Theme Icon